When we talk about mental health and happiness, bad lighting is often overlooked, and our focus is on creating a happier, healthier workplace. However, poor lighting can have a number of negative effects on physical and mental health, such as eye fatigue, headaches, and anxiety. We spend most of our time in artificial lighting environments, and there is evidence that lack of natural light can adversely affect the body and mind and can lead to diseases such as seasonal affective disorder (SAD).
When we spend the darkest days of the year, 40% of office workers struggle with work in poor lighting every day. According to a recent study on the impact of workplace lighting, this has a negative impact on their productivity and well-being. This is a recent study by the global office supplies giant Staples, which conducted an online survey of 7,000 office workers in October 2018. The study sample was from office workers in 10 European countries, including: UK (2000 people, 302 in London), Germany (1000), France (500), Netherlands (500), Sweden (500), Norway (500 people), Spain (500 people), Italy (500 people), Portugal (500 people) and Finland (500 people).
80% of office workers say that good lighting is important to them in the workplace; 40% face uncomfortable lighting every day; 32% means better lighting makes them happier at work . However, when winter access to natural light is limited, many people feel stressed and even have the seasonal affective disorder (SAD), and often stay at their desks for long periods of time, which is sometimes their only daylighting opportunity during the day. The survey also showed that 25% of respondents were frustrated by the lack of light in the workplace.
Usually, only 13-15 minutes of natural light is enough to trigger the release of endorphins or “happy hormones”. Dr. Joe Taravella, head of pediatric psychology at NYU’s Lagone Medical Center, said SAD affects 5% to 10% of the population, which is a clinical depression every quarter. A large proportion of patients with symptoms.
Another study concluded that there is a close relationship between workplace lighting and the sleep, activity, and quality of life of office workers.
There are no standards in the UK that dictate the level of lighting in the workplace. Section 8 of the Workplace Health, Safety and Welfare Ordinance (WHSW) only stipulate that workplace lighting should be “appropriate and adequate” and that natural light should be used in the workplace. The emphasis on natural daylighting and other related research reflects a consensus that daylight is the best form of lighting.
However, in parts of the northern hemisphere, daylight itself does not provide sufficient illumination for the entire work area. This means that “appropriate and sufficient” lighting often requires a combination of natural and artificial lighting, in particular, the need to provide individualized artificial lighting according to activities, functions and personal needs, as well as artificial lighting that mimics natural light.
Staples’ research suggests providing employees with SAD phototherapy luminaires and using high-light, cool-toned lighting in the morning to maximize productivity. In this research report, 68% of employees surveyed admitted that if employers can consider their own health and happiness and invest in appropriate lighting, they will feel that they are more valued by employers.
Personalized lighting options help create a more inclusive work environment. One method is to adjust the light intensity and illumination during the day based on the natural daylight level outdoors and the individual needs of the user. In this way, employees feel that they are more able to control their work environment, which has also been proven to improve their happiness and productivity in the workplace.
Some lighting designers recommend emphasizing cooler color temperatures, such as by adding more blue light to the mixture. A trial by the University of Surrey’s Sleep Research Center showed that blue light at specific wavelengths inhibits melatonin (sleep hormone), which is used to regulate the sleep/wake cycle. The experiment conducted an experiment on office workers on two floors, comparing the alertness levels (awake state) of employees working in white light conditions rich in blue light and under normal white light conditions. The study found that both morning and lunch time, the level of alertness is the same. But another test before employees went home found that employees on the Blu-ray floor were significantly more alert. Four weeks later, 92% said they prefer working in a blue-light environment rather than old-fashioned lights.
There is now ample evidence that lighting that mimics natural light can greatly improve the health and well-being of people in the workplace, such as providing more natural light through large windows to provide proper illumination, as well as providing biodynamics and Personalized lighting for task adjustment is achieved.